A Challenge Worth Accepting

Last updated: August 2018

Our lives were forever changed when my son was diagnosed at age 4 with psoriasis, then again at age 5 with juvenile psoriatic arthritis. And then, three years later, I was diagnosed with psoriatic disease, too. Countless doctor visits, hospital ERs, labs, tests – you name it, we've probably done it. Thanks to wonderful friends and family, our support system is strong. We would be lost without them.

Why I fundraise

We've lived nearly 16 years with psoriatic disease in our family. Research, treatments and quality of life have certainly improved greatly. But there's still more work to do. We're hopeful for a cure to these chronic autoimmune diseases in our lifetime – a cure from red, itchy, painful lesions on our skin; a cure from wondering if today will be the day we need to pull out the wheelchair; a cure from taking medication that can have awful side effects; a cure from the inflammation inside our bodies; a cure from waiting for the next disease to pop up, simply because having psoriatic disease dramatically increases our chances of heart disease, diabetes, depression and more.

Thankfully, we have the National Psoriasis Foundation on our side to help fund research and provide programs to increase the quality of life for patients with psoriatic disease.

The challenge

While my disease is quiet (for now!), I challenged myself to climb the beautiful Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and kayak part of the Lake Michigan shoreline in northern Michigan as a way to fundraise for NPF. The plan was for me to carry our 35-pound tandem kayak and hike roundtrip 3.5 miles through rugged, steep terrain, taking a break half-way through to kayak the Great Lake. For healthy people, completing this would be a great accomplishment. For me, it would have meant that I refuse to let psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis keep me from adventures, experiences and living life to the fullest. Thankfully, I wouldn't be doing this alone. Heidi, my best friend and contributor to Health Union's sister site Psoriatic-Arthritis.com, came along to make sure I had help when I needed it, and also to document the adventure.

Well, that was the plan...

You see, the weather in Michigan can be unpredictable. There's really no good way to plan for an adventure like this when you have to travel five hours to get there and hope the weather holds. And though Mother Nature brought us sun and warm temperatures, she also brought us lots of wind. The park rangers suggested that our challenge might be a little too challenging for people who are not "avid sportsmen."

On to plan B

We chose an alternate plan and kayaked Cathead Bay, which is part of Lake Michigan, and climb Mt. Baldy, a pretty steep sand dune in Leelanau State Park, both located in Northport, Mich. Since Heidi's parents live in Northport, we had extra help if the weather turned bad.

Don't let our smiles in the video fool you. It was definitely challenging. Carrying the 35-pound kayak down to the lake, getting pelted with sand from the wind on the dune, pushing everything we had to climb to the summit – yep, it was difficult. But it was for a great cause, and I'd gladly do it again.

And, I'd like to thank Health Union for supporting me with a generous donation to the cause. I'm so grateful to be part of a community that cares so much!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The PlaquePsoriasis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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